(Yicai Global) Oct. 28 -- The fertility rate of Chinese women of child-bearing age was 1.047 last year, much lower than the 1.6 forecast by authorities. Of particular concern is the fertility rate for first-born children, which stands at 0.556.
The fertility rate of a population is an estimation of the average number of children that would be born to a woman in that region over her lifetime. The population generation replacement rate is 2.1. China's fertility rate during the sixth population census in 2010 was 1.18.
Roughly 5.67 million women between the ages of 15 to 49 years old took part in the survey, accounting for 1.55 percent of all women of reproductive age. They gave birth to 175,309 children, 93,000 of whom were the first child in the family, 69,700 were the second child in the family, and 12,500 were the third or more child in their families, according to the China Statistical Yearbook for 2016.
The fertility rate for first-born children was only 0.556, lower than Tokyo whose fertility rate has been around 1.06 for years and that of first children 0.61. This requires the government to be on the alert, an unnamed population scholar said.
All families are allowed to have at least one child, and thus all first-born children should be reported without omission, he said. Such a low first-child fertility rate is the result of increasing infertility, negative repercussions resulting from the long-term restrictions on reproduction, the higher costs of raising children and the changing concept of family. Such negative attitudes and a low fertility rate are hard to turn around.
Last month, an open letter from the Health and Family Planning Commission of Yichang city in the central Hubei province encouraged families to have a second child.
Demographer Huang Wenzheng said on looking again at local fertility statistics in Yichang, he saw that fertility levels in August 2015 were only 0.81. The ultra-low fertility rate of this region makes the national fertility rate of 1.047 plausible.